From our favourite Disney movies to our favourite video games, 2D and 3D animation present in most things we watch and enjoy. Technology continues to improve, and our graphics get livelier, sharper, cooler.
The entertainment industry is not the only consumer of 3D animation, though. The latter is widely used in education, medicine, architecture, and of course, advertising. From all the various animation styles, 3D is by far the most demanded one, especially by younger generations.
Its no wonder that 3D animation in Malaysia has become very prominent. It’s easy to see why people love 3D animations: They’re super exciting, engaging, and a great communicator. It’s no surprise so many businesses rely on them for brand storytelling, building a friendly image, and attracting more customers.
What is 3D Animation?
3D animation is the process of placing objects and characters in a 3D space and manipulating them to create the illusion of motion. The objects are made based on 3D models assimilated in a digital environment with 3D modeling tools. Alternatively, real-life objects can be scanned into a computer and become blueprints for 3D animated objects.
The goal of 3D animators is to move objects and characters in a given scene as realistically as possible. You can create the perfect cartoon character, but if its movements are uneven, robotic, or awkward, all your hard work will go down the drain. That’s why animators spend quite some time studying the basic principles of motion to make their animations believable.
Difference between 3D and 2D Animation
2D animation is flat as it’s based on a two-dimensional plane with x and y axes. Think of Pinocchio, the original Aladdin and The Lion King, The Little Mermaid, Rick and Morty — we could go on forever. With the help of an additional axis, 3D adds a perception of depth to animations, making them more realistic.
2D animation achieves motion through the rapid succession of 2D scenes, each slightly different from the last. 3D animation is done by building 3D models and maneuvering them in a three-dimensional setting. The addition of a third axis gives way more room to move and arrange objects in a scene, making character animation more flexible
3D Animation Video Production
Compared to the process of producing a 2D animation video, 3D animation production is much more complex. It is time-consuming and requires more powerful computer hardware due to its highly technical pipeline and various steps requiring specialists to work on it. When the pre-production is done, the 3D production takes a wholly different route to produce a video.
The most common 3D softwares used in the industry are Autodesk 3DS Max, Autodesk Maya, Cinema 4D, and Blender. These softwares are individually capable of handling a 3D project, but results may not be enough to meet the expectations of the present industry standards. 3D artists prefer to use Zbrush, Substance painter & external rendering plugins such as Vray and Arnold to achieve better and more realistic results.
This process is similar to creating illustrations and characters in 2D animation but in 3D space. Creating 2D illustrations is more like painting or sketching, whereas 3D modeling is like sculpting or clay modeling.
3D models are made up of polygons. Just like adding more pixels, it allows you to add more details in your 2D illustration. Adding more polygons helps you to add more detail to your model.
The modeler needs to keep all the polygons in quads; if not, it may cause trouble at later stages, such as rigging and animation. Some models that are supposed to be stationary can have triangular faces, but it is always a good practice to keep the polygon mesh-flow clean in quads to make things less complicated for further processes.
The process of texturing a model is providing or shaping a 3d model with its desired look and feel. A 3D model without this process is just like a clay model. No matter how detailed your model is, it’s always incomplete without this process.
Texturing involves assigning a 3D model the physical properties of its surface, such as its color, reflectivity, glossiness, refractivity, roughness, metalness, etc. Texturing also involves adding minute details such as skin pores, fabric threads, creature scales, wrinkles, etc., to 3D models, which is called ‘Bumpiness’ in 3D technical language.
For a detailed texturing process, 3D models are first flattened. This process is known as UV Unwrapping. All the sides of a 3D model are flattened in 2D, allowing you to paint on it.
The flattened UVs are moved to specialized softwares for painting such as Photoshop or Substance Painter, which most texturing artists prefer to work with these days as it offers much more control and capabilities. Here details on the surface are painted, such as scratches, dirt, rust, etc.
The 2D painted textures are brought back to the 3D software and applied to the 3D model. Material attributes such as reflectivity, glossiness, refractivity, roughness, metalness, and bump are also adjusted at this stage.
The process of rigging is preparing a 3D model for animation. A rigger adds joints & bones to the model that are controlled using controllers. This is the most technical part of preparing a model. Rigging is done only for the models that are supposed to be in motion.
Rigging a character starts with creating a skeleton that aligns with the character’s anatomy. It has all kinds of joints which can be bent or moved. Every joint has to be appropriately named to avoid confusion at later stages.
Once the skeleton is created, it is connected to the 3d model. This process is known as skinning. It is time-consuming and has to be done very carefully. Reversing anything from this point sometimes would burden you to start all over again.
As an animator, you add life to the rigged model. You can add movement expressions and make the 3d model look alive.
It is like controlling the strings of a puppet and making it perform the final show. Animation principles are the same as 2D animation, but controlling and animating a character in 3D space is a different challenge.
3D Animation Tips and Tricks
While it is true that 3D animation can be a laborious process, there are a bunch of tips and tricks to make the workflow a lot smoother. Of course, your work process will naturally become quicker and more productive the more experience you get, but here are some 3D animation tips to help you make the most of your efforts.
Progress With Technology
Technology evolves; there are constant updates, new computer software, improved features, and it can be hard to keep up at times. But if you’re determined to stay up to speed with your field, you need to grow with technology.3D animation software has advanced a lot, and the right tools can save you time to work on more projects. Be sure to pick 3D animation software that corresponds with your level of mastery. You never want to go for fancy, complex systems you won’t be able to use proficiently.
Observe Real Life
As a 3D animator, you’ll come to notice that the more time passes, the more of an observer you become. After all, your goal is to make your 3D characters and objects as realistic as possible. And the best way to imitate real life is to know how it functions.
Observe and study the physics of everyday life. This doesn’t mean, though, you should pursue a physics diploma. Just doing some research and understanding the effects of gravity will do the job. Basic knowledge of gravity will help you give reasonable weight to your objects and make their movements more convincing.
Know the Subtleties of Human Emotion
It’s difficult to connect to an animated character unless it expresses human-like feelings. Learn how to mimic facial expressions and what emotion each of them is tied to if you want to master facial animation. Your observation skills will again come in handy here. Watch how people communicate, how they react to their environment, and how they convey certain emotions. You can grab a mirror and study your own expressions if you’d like. Whatever approach you choose, remember that facial animation gives your character a personality, making it much more relatable.
3D animation has taken over more aspects of our lives than we often imagine. It’s a key player in filmmaking, game development, social media, medicine, engineering, architecture, and the list goes on. As 3D animation software steadily progresses, the gap between animation and the real world seems to grow smaller.
Unlike 2D animation, 3D takes place in a three-dimensional environment — hence the name. This article discussed the main process of 3D production, its difference from 2D animation, 3D animation tips, the best animation tools to use, and their online alternative to get your animated videos ready in minutes. Here at Dezpad, we strive to achieve your goals with our 3D Animation Services.
Feel free to Contact Us if you would like to create a 3D Animation Video for your business.